Sunday, April 8, 2018

Phasers on Stun Part I: Know Your Enemy



Here’s what this post is NOT about:


  • Taking away all the guns.
  • “Violating” 2nd Amendment rights.
  • Denigrating responsible gun owners, some of whom may be members of the NRA.

_____________________________________________________________________

Dispatch from the ‘Know Your Enemy’ Dept:

What is the NRA?

A fair enough question, right? We’ve been hearing an awful lot about them over the last few years. For better or worse, most everyone has an opinion on the matter, and I’m no different. Though admittedly, it made me queasy, I went to their website to learn more.

At its inception in 1871 and for some time thereafter, the National Rifle Association was actually a fairly positive organization. The initial impetus was to address poor marksmanship among soldiers but they later expanded that mission to encompass firearms training for hunters and to promote what they term “shooting sports among America's youth.”

You can read all about it at the website but for my purposes, here, I’m going to mention one date of note. As the website indicates: “In 1975, recognizing the critical need for political defense of the Second Amendment, NRA formed the Institute for Legislative Action, or ILA.”

This is the poisonous seed that ultimately grew so wildly out of control, it superseded any positive purpose the NRA may have served and made it what it is today: a soulless propaganda and lobbyist machine that actively works to prevent any new gun legislation that doesn’t suit their gun manufacturer-driven agenda of putting more guns in people’s hands. They do not care how rational or necessary any new legislation may be and they do not care about the welfare of the citizens of this country. They are nothing less than an extremist organization. They do not negotiate. When faced with any criticism or opposition, they clamp their hands over their ears and chant “2nd Amendment! More guns! 2nd Amendment! More guns!” They are an active detriment to the welfare of our country and its citizens. They care about nothing but themselves and their agenda.

Their claptrap (that’s right; I used the c-word) references to the 2nd Amendment, “liberty,” “America,” “civil rights,” (incredibly, they are technically considered a “civil rights advocacy” organization) and all other such pseudo-patriotic propaganda are nothing but amoral, loathsome cloaking devices to serve their agenda. I’m going to vivisect some of that propaganda in a future installment of this post. This installment is intended to focus primarily on the organization itself and what to do about them.

I believe that the majority of legal gun owners are responsible, rational people. The NRA does NOT represent those people! My advice to any such individuals who are NRA members is to revoke their memberships immediately. More on this below.

If we were to anonymously poll every member of Congress about whether they support sensible gun control legislation, the results would be resoundingly pro-legislation (From a more cynical perspective, if one of these shootings occurred at a session of Congress, assault weapons would be banned within a week). This is not a fight about right and wrong or even rationality vs irrationality. It’s about removing a catastrophically dangerous parasite from the body of this country, a parasite that has compromised the functionality of America.

The NRA donates a lot of money to political figures who either support their agenda or can be intimidated into doing so. Indeed, it gives them ratings to assess their value to their cause. It buys and sells politicians on a constant basis, sinking their claws deeper and deeper into our political system. It has to stop. The NRA must, ironically, be disarmed for the public good.

Here’s how we do that:

1. Refuse to vote for politicians who take NRA money. Write your grandma’s name on the ballot sheet if all the candidates in a given race take NRA money. It doesn’t matter what they have done, are doing, or claim they will do. It doesn’t matter if they took $100.00 or $100,000.00. If they deal with the NRA, they’re not electable. It’s not a conversation. It’s a light switch. No NRA influence: Light On. Takes NRA money: Light Off. It’s really that simple. And necessary.

Check out the following website for all kinds of interesting details regarding NRA finances:

 
2. Support companies that have boycotted the NRA and don’t do business with those that do. A few major companies have stepped up to distance themselves from the NRA. More of them (a LOT more) need to do the same.

Here’s a current list of companies (as of April 2018) that have boycotted the NRA based on a recent Newsweek article (http://www.newsweek.com/nra-boycott-full-list-companies-have-cut-ties-gun-lobby-over-florida-shooting-819050):

Alamo Rent a Car
Allied Van Lines

Avis

Best Western

Budget Rental Car

Chubb Insurance

Delta Air Lines

Enterprise Rent-a-Car

1st Nat’l Bank of Omaha

Hertz

MetLife

N American Van Lines

Paramount Rx

SimpliSafe

Symantec

TrueCar


There will be more, and more power to them. I realize I’m outing myself as an idealist of the highest order, but corporate America shouldn’t just be about making money. Sometimes, they need to take a stand on what’s right for our country. This is one of those times.

3. Encourage NRA members to join other gun-owner’s organizations. Basic membership in the NRA is $40 per year. You get a magazine subscription, an initial gift of a duffel bag or baseball cap, and some discounts. It’s not worth it ideologically or literally. As noted above, there are plenty of other responsible organizations for gun-owners out there. Empower NRA members to find one and join it. Encourage them to say a permanent goodbye to the NRA and not look back.

To those NRA members who feel disenfranchised by the organization, or legal gun owners who aren’t NRA members (and I’ve talked to people in both factions who specifically told me, “I’m a gun owner but I don’t feel the NRA speaks for me or represents my interests.”), let me say this: There are lots of other gun-owners organizations out there that support sensible gun legislation and provide similar benefits. It’s easy to find them by doing a websearch on something like “sensible gun control groups.” They will use your membership dollars far more progressively than the NRA and they probably need them a lot more. If they don’t provide the same level of discounts on various goods and services that the NRA does, join AAA.

4. Push for more legislation regarding ammunition. I know this seems a little off the wall but hear me out. The reason we’ve made so much headway with regard to gay rights in recent years, particularly with regard to gay marriage, is simple. Gay rights advocates successfully minimized the influence of religion in that discussion. When you look at it in a purely legal context, the right to marry, a right you need a license for (we should require one for being a parent, too, but I digress…) is a contract that grants the participants certain rights and privileges. Religious beliefs play no concrete role in that process. Any conversation about gay marriage not being ‘acceptable’ or ‘appropriate’ comes down to one deeply flawed, religious dogma-based conclusion: My love as a straight person is ‘better’ than your love as a gay person. Ultimately, the courts had no choice but to recognize that that notion is ridiculous. That opened the doors to allow the gay community to start getting the rights they deserve. It circumvented flawed, but deeply-ingrained ideology. The same thing will ultimately occur with related transgender rights. Unless there is a legitimate, concrete, legal rationale to prevent them from serving in the military and being provided access to other resources that all other Americans have access to, they will eventually be granted those same freedoms and opportunities. We have to employ the same creativity of thought regarding the NRA to further destabilize their influence over our nation.

We’re going to talk about the 2nd Amendment in another installment of this post but I’ll give you a teaser: 2A doesn’t mention ammunition. It uses the phrase, “bear arms” which specifically refers to the right to possess and use weapons. Though it may be implied that weapons require ammunition, the language doesn’t specifically state that. That’s a ‘Thinking Outside the Box’ pathway to limiting the amount of ammunition an individual can possess and the destructive power of that ammunition. It represents another tool in the toolbox to gain more leverage over the NRA in the same way that getting religion out of the equation for gay rights gave that community leverage over the unadulterated bias that has and (to a lesser degree) continues to vex them. 

5. Mobilize and persevere. Here’s the thing. You can say what you want about the NRA but you can’t deny one basic truth: they are incredibly organized and motivated. The NRA plays the long game and they play it with machine-like consistency. Again, they are extremists. They do not negotiate. When anyone challenges them, they don’t give the slightest consideration to any point of view other than their own. They double down on their established talking points, vehemently attack their critics, retreat to their bunker, and wait for the heat to die down. Then, they go back to business as usual.

Their core constituents are equally as extremist in their attitudes and actions (we’ll be talking about this more in a future installment). Here’s a perfect example. Would you like to know what happened to the NRA immediately following the Parkland shooting? Their donations tripled. TRIPLED!! According to a recent article (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/nra-donations-tripled-after-parkland-florida-shooting/ar-BBKPitI), they collected almost $250,000 in individual contributions in January 2018. In February (and keep in mind the shooting occurred in the middle of the month), that number jumped to just under $780,000! That, my friends, is motivation in action.

It’s also fear. The NRA’s core constituents immediately understood that their organization would come under intense criticism regarding the Parkland shooting. Having drunk that organization’s amoral, paranoia-infused Kool Aid, they feel they’re “under attack” and that their guns are going to get taken away. They’re absolutely right about the former and delusional about the latter (with the eventual exception of assault style weapons). The response of the Parkland kids and the massive wave of momentum they’ve been generating has rattled the NRA’s cage in a way it hasn’t been rattled in a long, long time. Regardless, they are deeply entrenched in the political and sociological landscape of America. The Parkland kids and we, their supporters, need to understand it will take intense, long-term, sustained effort to dig them out. We must be equally as militant as the NRA itself. We cannot equivocate, negotiate, or hesitate. With regard to untrenching the NRA, mercy has left the building. This is a scorched-earth campaign.

I’m going to stop here for now. In the next installment(s) of this post, we’re going to talk about the 2nd Amendment, the demented ideology of the NRA and their hardcore constituents, and some other related issues.

Tune back in soon: Same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel…

Thank you for reading. 

~~~